Consumer loan delinquencies increased for the first time in four quarters as the U.S. economy's struggles continue, according to the American Bankers Association (ABA).
The overall delinquency rate rose slightly from 2.98% to 3% in the second quarter based on the statistics the group uses to measure how much trouble consumers are having making payments on loans, the ABA said in a report released this week.
"The economic momentum over the last few quarters seems to be losing steam," ABA Chief Economist James Chessen said in a statement. "This will affect job creation and the ability of consumers to pay off debt. I think delinquencies will continue to improve but at a slower pace, reflecting a struggling economy."
The delinquency rate had been dropping steadily since hitting 3.35% in the second quarter of 2009. The ABA defines a delinquency as a payment that is 30 days or more overdue.
Among the bright spots, bank card delinquencies fell from 3.88% to 3.62% in the second quarter, and direct auto loan delinquencies fell from 1.79% to 1.67% over the same period.
Chessen said one reason the delinquency numbers remained mostly steady overall is because banks are writing off loans that have not been repaid.
Consumer spending had been a major driver of the economy before the recession. During this time, however, the accumulation of too much debt, particularly through mortgages, is seen as a leading cause of the 2007-2009 financial crisis and the ensuing economic downturn.
Finding a balance between spending and debt has proved troubling. President Obama on Monday said consumer spending was less likely to drive a robust recovery because Americans are focusing more on reducing their debts and increasing their savings.